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Assault by Auto

In New Jersey, reckless driving that results in bodily injury to another person could result in charges of Assault by Auto or Vessel. Frequently, this charge is filed in connection with other charges such as DUI or DWI.

When Assault by Auto results in bodily injury, it is considered a disorderly conduct offense; whereas incidents that result in serious bodily injury are considered 4th degree offenses. Each carry penalties of possible jail time and/or fines, along with collateral consequences. If you are accused of Assault by Auto or Vessel, it is advisable to consult with a criminal defense attorney. Anthony P. Kearns, Victor A. Rotolo and the legal team at Kearns Rotolo Law are experienced in the defense of criminal charges, including Assault by Auto.

Prior to joining the Firm in January 2022 as managing partner, Anthony P. Kearns held the distinction of being the longest serving Prosecutor for Hunterdon County, having been appointed by the Governor of New Jersey to that position for two consecutive terms. As Chief Law Enforcement Officer in the County, he has experience with and insight into the way the State prepares its cases, which he uses to mount powerful defenses for charges filed against his clients.

As Prosecutor, Mr. Kearns led a team of 9 assistant prosecutors and approximately 30 detectives with the goal of investigating, prosecuting and preventing criminal activities within the County. During this time, he worked in partnership with other area leaders to implement community programs aimed at improving the quality of life for all Hunterdon County residents.

Mr. Kearns was also Deputy Attorney General for the State of New Jersey (1999 – 2002), prosecuted for the Board of Medical Examiners of the State of NJ and other professional boards, as well as cases for the Division of Youth & Family Services (now the Division of Child Protection & Permanency (DCPP)). Additionally, he served as a Member and President of the County Prosecutors Association of New Jersey (2013 – 2014), and the NJ State Delegate to the National District Attorneys’ Association (2017 to 2019). A member of the Executive Board of the Hunterdon County Bar Association from 2005 through 2015, Mr. Kearns served as President of that Association from 2009 through 2010.

Super Lawyers BadgeVictor A. Rotolo has been included on the List of New Jersey Super Lawyers in the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023, marking his eighteenth year of inclusion on this list. The list of New Jersey Super Lawyers is generated by the Thomson Reuters organization which employs the following methodology and set of standards to compile the list each year. Super Lawyers Selection Methodology [No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court.]

Certified Civil Trial Attorney BadgeVictor A. Rotolo is certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Civil Trial Attorney.

"A certified attorney is more than just an attorney who specializes in a particular area of law. A New Jersey attorney who is certified by the Supreme Court as a civil trial attorney must have:

  • been a member in good standing of the New Jersey bar for over 5 years
  • demonstrated a substantial level of experience in civil trial law
  • been favorably evaluated by other attorneys and judges familiar with his or her work
  • taken and passed a written examination in civil trial law."

Source: Supreme Court of New Jersey, Board on Attorney Certification, Brochure on Certified Civil Trial Attorney. See Rule 1:39: Specialty Certification of Attorneys.

Assault by Auto Penalties and Consequences

In Assault by Auto cases, it only has to be proven that the vehicle involved was operated in a reckless or aggressive manner. Proof of intent to injure another person is not required.

Examples of reckless driving include, but are not limited to:

  • Failing to obey traffic rules
  • Making a u-turn over double yellow lines
  • Running red lights or stop signs
  • Tailgating
  • Weaving in and out of traffic

Examples of aggressive driving include, but are not limited to:

  • Blocking other drivers from changing lanes or passing
  • Changing lanes without signaling
  • Cutting in front of another vehicle and then slowing down
  • Speeding in heavy traffic

The penalties associated with Assault by Auto vary depending upon the extent of injuries incurred. Incidents that result in bodily injury and considered a disorderly conduct offense are punishable by up to 6 months in county jail and fines up to $1,000. When the incident results in serious bodily injury, however, the 4th degree offense is punishable by up to 18 months in prison and fines up to $10,000.

Depending on the extent of injuries incurred and circumstances surrounding the incident (i.e., driving on or within 1,000 feet of school property or through a school crossing, driving aggressively, or driving under the influence), the penalties for Assault by Auto can increase and range between 5 and 10 years in prison and between $15,000 and $150,000 in fines.

In addition to the above, there are collateral consequences involved, including: a criminal record that can make it more difficult for the offender to obtain employment, housing and, in some cases, admission to school; the suspension of professional licenses (i.e., law and medical), loss of the right to vote; and suspension of driving privileges.

The criminal defense attorneys at Kearns Rotolo Law have the experience to protect your rights and represent your best interests in the face of these charges. Call for a free consultation.

What Our Clients are Saying

I was very proud to be represented by Tony and felt secure at a time I needed a compass to head out of a difficult bind. Confidence in your counsel and a sense of security in understanding how best to proceed are important reasons to consider Anthony Kearns and his team of outstanding lawyers.

- Lynn

Tony was excellent! He was knowledgeable, responsive and on-time. His experience as a County Prosecutor definitely helped our case as he knows how the legal system works and how to navigate. I highly recommend Tony and his office.

- Matt

Thankfully I found Kearns Rotolo Law and I had a wonderful experience working with Charles Rifici on a difficult divorce/child custody issue. I am so grateful for all the work and guidance he provided. He always took his time and diligently went through all my options with me so I could make the decisions that benefitted my family and I. I will be forever thankful for the top notch services he provided.

- Cinthya

In March of 2022 I contacted Kearns Rotolo Law Firm with an urgent problem, Mr. Kearns and Mr. Rotolo contacted me immediately to give me hope as to rectify my problem. The end result was Mr Kearns was able to solve my issue through extreme professionalism, I am very grateful I found Kearns Rotolo Law firm and I would recommend their law firm to anyone that has a less extreme problem or a more complex problem, I am very grateful for their services.

- Bill

The absolute BEST!!! I have a family of attorneys but needed someone local. Victor was recommended to me and words cannot describe how pleased I was with his firm. The outstanding service and attention each member of his staff gave to me surpassed any and all expectations. Victor surrounds himself with a hardworking team that he leads. I felt it was money spent wisely. I will continue to recommend Victor and his associates.

- Stephanie